The Business Development Program is for ideators and innovators: if you see a problem and want to build a solution that will make a difference in the world, this program will give you the knowledge and skills you need to get started on your entrepreneurial journey. You do not have to have a complete framework of your business plan yet — that is, after all, what we are here to help you with — but you need an idea and a vision.
Full program or single module?
So you have an idea, but what do you need to make it a reality? The core mission of VentureLab North is to empower aspiring entrepreneurs. The road from innovative idea to successful business is neither well-paved nor signposted, and it is easy to get lost on the way to market. That’s why we developed the the full three-module program and the introductory single-module program. The single-module program (called Idea Ignite, click the link for more information) runs for four months and provides a thorough understanding of the problem and market for your solution. The full program takes this grounding as the foundation for building the skills and competences needed to start and build a business. What you need is up to you: but single-module VentureLabbies can always continue to complete the full program, should they decide to.
What will you get from the single module?
The single-module program, or Idea Ignite Program, provides a four-month workshop series in which participants engage with trainers, mentors, and entrepreneurs to work on their opportunity validation process. Intensive practical sessions allow participants to develop, research, validate, and implement the plan that will form the backbone for their growth through the module, and the workshops are structured around experiences and field-tested insights from peers, experts, and entrepreneurs in startup entrepreneurship and customer discovery.
- The workshop program: Approximately 4 months of weekly workshops presented by trainers who are industry and domain experts.
- Mentoring: Ongoing one-on-one sessions (16 hours in total) with a mentor chosen specifically for their aptitude and understanding of your needs.
- Pitch presentation: At the end of the four-month learning module, you get the opportunity to present your business idea to a panel of industry experts and leaders in the local entrepreneur ecosystem, the University of Groningen, business, and investment. Panel members will provide invaluable personal and professional feedback and insight into your value proposition.
What will you get from the full program?
The Business Development Program provides essential training and knowledge through three core components:
- The workshop program: Approximately 10 months of weekly workshops presented by trainers who are industry and domain experts.
- Mentoring and coaching: Ongoing one-on-one sessions with a mentor chosen specifically for their aptitude and understanding of your needs. In addition you have access to additional hours of expert coaching for any specific questions or advice you need to move forward.
- Pitch presentations: At the end of each four-month learning module, you get the opportunity to present your business idea to a panel of industry experts and leaders in the local entrepreneur ecosystem, the University of Groningen, business, and investment. Panel members will provide invaluable personal and professional feedback and insight into your value proposition and growth in the program.
Do you have an idea you want to turn into a reality? Applications are now open for our next Business Development Program: Group 20 begins on January 26 and runs till the end of January 2025 — sign up now and don’t miss out!
Weekly workshops: Build your knowledge and skills
The central component of the Business Development Program is the weekly group workshops that run every Friday over the course of the program (excluding holidays and summer break). The workshop content is designed to provide you with the skills and tools necessary for ideators and early-stage entrepreneurs to strategise, validate product-market fit, evaluate their value proposition, pitch their idea, and develop a business model, all helped by the experience and expertise of a community of entrepreneurs, industry specialists, researchers, and local ecosystem leaders. We think one past participant said it best when they summed up their VentureLab North experience: “You don’t know what you don’t know”.
Workshops are interactive and run for three hours; a morning session runs from 9am till 12pm, and an afternoon session runs from 1pm till 4pm. On days with both a morning and an afternoon session, lunch will be catered. The workshops are coordinated by VentureLab North, and we handpick our trainers for their domain-, industry-, or entrepreneurship-specific expertise. This is also a great opportunity to build your network and possibly your team as you mingle and learn with other like-minded participants.
Your own individual mentor
Your entrepreneurial journey through the program will be supported by the advice and guidance of an individual mentor. You will be assigned a mentor who matches your needs and requirements for personal, team, and business development. Your relationship with your mentor plays a key role in making your time at VentureLab a success. Idea Ignite Program participants have 16 hours, and full-program participants have 48 hours available to spend with their mentor across the program, and it is up to you to make the most of them.
Things you can expect from your mentor and mentoring sessions include the following:
- Personal, team, and business development support
- A trusted guide and external motivator to keep you responsible and on track
- Personalised feedback and goal setting
- Targeted input for how to deal with issues/questions
- A valuable source of possible network contacts
Connect with specialists for expert coaching
On top of your mentor hours, full-program participants will also have a maximum of 10 hours of expert coaching available. Expert coaches provide specific support or advice beyond the advice your mentor or the workshop program can provide.
Pitch your idea: Business Panel Presentations
Instead of conventional assessments, progress and development in the full VentureLab program is tracked through three Business Panel Presentations, one at the end of each of the learning modules (or one Business Panel Presentation for Idea Ignite participants). In the presentations you will stand before a panel of experts (leaders in the Groningen entrepreneur ecosystem, the University, or business and investment) and pitch your idea, drawing on all the lessons you have taken from the trainers, mentors, and expert coaches. The panel members are there to evaluate your idea, provide insights and feedback, and interrogate the assumptions and expectations you present. Their feedback will provide valuable insights for your business development through the program and beyond.
Who is the program for?
VentureLab North is not the place for people who want to set up a bakery or a restaurant. We are here for those who want to make something new or fix a problem that hasn’t been solved yet, or perhaps just hasn’t been solved in your exact way. Deep tech, SaaS, energy, health, AI, researchers, students, PhDs, as long as you have an idea, you are welcome here. You can join the program as an individual or as part of a team, with flexible pricing arrangements for both.
What you will achieve
The simplest goal of the Business Development Program is to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools and competencies that will allow them to build a business plan that they can take into the world. But what you can achieve as part of the program is so much bigger. Participation in VentureLab can open up a whole new way of thinking, a world of opportunities and contacts, or a new direction — you will get out of the program what you put in, and every little extra will find reward. Each participant who completes the program to the expected standards will receive certificates of participation, but it is the knowledge, experience, and network that you gain that is the real trophy.
How do I sign up?
The application process is simple: all you need to bring is an innovative business idea with a focus on impact, a compelling video pitch, and ambition and commitment. The pitch video is part of the application process, after which you are invited for an interview. If you get into the program, there is a participation fee (learn more about the pricing schemes and the possibilities for subsidies here), and you will need to be able to attend the Friday workshops on-site at VentureLab North, located at Startup City on the Zernike Campus in Groningen.
Group 20 program dates
- Deadline for sign ups: January 12, 2024
- Start date: January 26, 2024
- Idea Ignite program end date: May, 2024
- Full program end date: January, 2025
- Every Friday: Morning sessions run from 9am till 12pm, afternoon sessions run from 1pm till 4pm, and on days with a morning and an afternoon session, lunch is catered from 12pm till 1pm.
Idea Ignite program price
- Students: €165 per person, max. €500 per team
- RUG & Hanze employees/alumni and PhD students: €500 per person, max. €1,340 as a team
- Externals: €2,500 per person, max. €2,500 as a team
Full program price
- Students: €500 per person, max. €1,500 as a team
- RUG & Hanze employees/alumni and PhD students: €1,500 per person, max. €4,000 as a team
- Externals: €7,500 per person, max. €7,500 as a team
- VentureLab North, Kadijk 4, Groningen
- Course is delivered in English